- Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff Writer
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ST. LOUIS -- It was a composed but frustrated Jose Veras who met with reporters Saturday morning just hours after blowing his second save of the young season and only a few minutes before Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria relieved him of his closer duties.
“For some reason I can’t get three down (out) right now,” Veras said. “I know how to handle it. I’m not going to put my head down or anything. It’s a couple bad outings, hopefully it’s going to stop one day. I’m going to keep fighting, keep working. I’ll never give up, brother.”
Veras has struggled since the spring, especially with his command. He’s hit seven batters between Cactus League games and the first 11 days of the regular season. That tells the whole story but doesn’t explain why it’s happening.
Plus, he feels like he can’t get a break. He wasn’t complaining, just stating a fact as he sees it.
“Try to pitch inside, hit a guy,” Veras said. “Try to throw a front door breaking ball, hit a guy. Make a good pitch they don’t swing. Make a good pitch I don’t receive a call by the guys behind home plate. It’s too much stuff at the same time. It’s not an excuse I have to get my job done and I can’t get it (done) right now.”
Scouts during the spring called his fastball “flat” but his off-speed stuff has been all over the place during the regular season. As Veras indicated, nothing is going right.
“My body feels good,” he said. “I’m not hurt. I’m 100 percent healthy. ... I’ve been having support from all my teammates, the coaches too. I can’t complain about it.”
As bad as he’s been, Veras won’t give in. He wants the ball as soon as he can get it. Even before Renteria told him he wouldn’t be closing, Veras offered to reporters he would pitch at any point in the game. He didn’t care -- as long as he could get back on track.
“I feel like I’m a warrior. I can handle it,” Veras stated. “I’ve been in that position before and I step up and keep going. ... I want the ball today. That’s the only way to get out of it. If I get the ball today, I promise I’m going to (give) 100 percent with my heart and try to do my job.”
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19hJohn Jackson, Special to ESPN.com
2dJohn Jackson, Special to ESPN.com